On the third day of the Festival, the latest feature in Competition for the Palme d'Or is Bright Star by New Zealand director Jane Campion. A longtime habitué of the Croisette, Campion won the Festival's top award in 1993 with The Piano. Seven years earlier, her short film Skin had been given the Short Film Palme d'Or. At this 62nd Cannes event, Campion returns with the story of a torrid and tragic passion: the early 19th-century love affair between the great English romantic poet John Keats and his neighbor Fanny Brawne. The young actors Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish, still relatively unknown to the general public, give a refreshingly modern performance. The true story is based on a number of sources, including Keats' poems and letters, and a heartfelt biography by Andrew Motion.
"I was incredibly moved by Andrew Motion's book," Campion told us. "I fell in love with their story; I was drawn to the pain and beauty and innocence of their love affair. They were so young… It was a true-life Romeo and Juliet story, well-documented, but one I had not known. I found myself weeping at the end of it. The story is so tragic and tender… The book also connected me to his poetry; I realized he was writing about his life and what he was going through. " For those of you who are curious about where the title, Bright Star, came from, it is the first line of a love sonnet Keats wrote for Fanny Brawne on the flyleaf of his collection of Shakespeare's works.